William Edmondson: A Monumental Vision

The Barnes Foundation



William Edmondson, untitled (Adam and Eve or Egyptian Couple), 1940. Photo courtesy of The Museum of Everything.


Brenden Fernandes, The Master and Form II, 2019 Whitney Biennial, New York, NY. Photo by Matthew Carasella, image courtesy of the artist and the Barnes Foundation.


William Edmondson, Bess and Joe, 1930-1940, limestone, collection of Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art, Nashville, TN. Photo by Eric Wheeler.

An exhibition and newly commissioned performance recontextualize the life and work of Black American sculptor William Edmondson (1874–1951), repositioning his artistic practice within the early 20th-century art world. Edmondson was the first Black artist to have a solo exhibition at MoMA, but the self-taught artist is typically presented in an “outsider art” context. Curators and scholars add nuance and context to the artist’s legacy, motivations, and relationship with the art world. A new performance created by Brendan Fernandes, a Chicago-based artist working at the intersection of dance and visual art, responds to Edmondson’s work and themes of cultural displacement and identity. A catalogue with scholarly essays accompanies the exhibition.

The total grant amount represents project funding plus an additional 20% in unrestricted general operating support.